Strategy to boost prostate cancer treatment efficacy devised at Rutgers Health

Jan. 29, 2024
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States and the fourth most common cancer worldwide.

Rutgers researchers can predict which patients will benefit from a popular prostate cancer drug – and have devised a strategy that may make the treatment work longer.

Antonina Mitrofanova, associate professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics, associate dean for research at the Rutgers School of Health Professions, researcher at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, is lead author of the study.

For the study in Nature Communications, Mitrofanova’s team developed computational algorithms to discover why the prostate cancer drug enzalutamide (sold under the brand name Xtandi) never works for some patients and why it eventually stops working in others.

The researchers analyzed advanced prostate cancer patient data to map interactions among molecular pathways and their upstream transcription factors (proteins that regulate the expression of multiple genes) in prostate cancer cells. Their attention centered on the MYC pathway because of its known role in prostate cancer. They discovered that another protein and transcription factor, NME2, works closely with MYC in advanced prostate cancer cells that resist enzalutamide and continue to spread.

Analysis of medical records found that patients with elevated levels of MYC and NME2 were five times less likely than others to benefit from enzalutamide. The analysis also found that protein levels climbed significantly in most patients who only responded to the drug temporarily.

Rutgers release on Newswise